Sophia's story - a family who cycles together
Meet 11-year-old Sophia, who has learning and physical disabilities. She lives with her parents Sonam and Anna-Lisa, her three-year-old sister and nine-month-old brother in Cambridge. Sonam and Anna-Lisa had struggled to find activities they could do as a family that were suitable for Sophia and her toddler sister.
“It’s really important to have days out as a family, to be able to relax together and bond. I found it difficult to find any local activities for all the children to keep them happy at the same time,” Anna-Lisa says.
Through Sophia’s school, the family learnt about the 'You Can Bike Too' project, a Cambridge-based, non-profit social enterprise providing specialist bikes and training to enable people with disabilities, or simply lacking confidence, to experience the benefits of cycling in their community.
Sophia had never been able to cycle a traditional two-wheeled bicycle, or even pedal an exercise bike. However, when the family attended the cycle session in October 2012 at Hetherhall School, she was able to try out a ‘Tomcat trike’, a two-wheeled bike with a pole at the back enabling a parent or carer to guide her until she learnt how to steer and brake. The trike was just what she needed to be able to pedal herself for the very first time. Sophia says: "It was amazing! It made me fast. I was pleased, mummy was pleased... it was really good cycling!"
Witnessing Sophia cycle for the first time, Anna-Lisa says: “I couldn’t believe my eyes! I didn’t realise she could pedal until I saw her at the 'You Can Bike Too' cycling event. I only ever thought she’d be able to cycle with someone next to her.”
Sophia grew in confidence during the session and was quickly in competition with her sister. With practice, she is hoping to learn how to steer herself and cycle with more independence.
“Cycling has greatly improved Sophia’s self-esteem and confidence. It’s also a great opportunity for her to exercise”
Anna-Lisa, Sophia's mum
Sophia and her family are continuing to attend regular 'You Can Bike Too' sessions at Milton Country Park. The project has given Sophia the opportunity to learn a new skill and enabled the family to spend quality time together.
'You Can Bike Too' at Milton Country Park in Cambridgeshire is one of over 40 Cycling UK-accredited clubs in the UK that are part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network - a partnership between Cycling UK and Cycling Projects, and is funded through the BIG Lottery Fund.
Case study by Tim Janes. To discuss inclusive cycling in the South East, contact our inclusive cycling development officer Tim Janes.